Morcellator Dangers

Before the 1990s, treatment for hysterectomy involved an open surgery, which required an abdominal incision about 5 – 7 inches long. This large wound took time to heal besides causing ongoing pain; it also restricted certain activities, especially lifting heavy objects, to keep the stitched up wound from bursting open and cause more complicated and serious problems.

The introduction of power morcellators during the 1990s gave doctors a much better alternative in treating hysterectomy, which is the second most common surgery performed on women (the first is caesarean section). Hysterectomy, the surgical procedure that removes the uterus, is often required to treat various conditions suffered by women, such as ovarian cancer, pelvic cancer or cancer of the uterus, uterine fibroids or myomas, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, uncontrollable vaginal bleeding, growth of uterine fibroids or benign tumors in the uterus, uterine prolapse (a condition wherein the womb or the uterus drops halfway from the cervix to the vagina or birth canal), adenomyosis and endometriosis.

The use of a power morcellator enabled doctors to perform laparoscopic surgery (such as hysterectomy and myomectomy), a minimally invasive surgical procedure that required four very tiny incisions, about 0.5-1cm short, which serve as passage ways for different medical devices that will enable the doctor to see into and reach the organs that need to be treated. One of these devices is the power morcellator, which is designed to cut (morcellate) oversized tissues into tiny pieces for easy and fast removal through one of the tiny incisions.

Besides the tiny incisions, other advantages of using a power morcellator included much lesser pain and bleeding, reduced chances of infection, and fast healing period. These advantages, though, were clouded by reports that linked the device to the spread of cancerous tissues inside the body.

Studies showed that cancerous tissues, called uterine sarcomas, which are almost undetectable, could also be present in women with uterine fibroids. As the fibroids are morcellated during a myomectomy surgery, so too are the uterine sarcomas.

Due to the risk of the spreading of these cancerous tissues, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert on April 17, 2014, to discourage doctors from the continued use of a power morcellator in laparoscopic surgery. Ethicon, the power morcellator manufacturing unit of Johnson & Johnson, was the first to respond to this FDA communication by suspending its global and national promotion, sales and distribution of its highly-engineered power morcellators, the Gynecare X-Tract Tissue Morcellator, the Morcellex Sigma Tissue Morcellator System, and the Gynecare Morcellex Tissue Morcellator.

About two dozen laparoscopic power morcellation devices have already been approved by the FDA since the 1990s and sadly, despite the FDA’s communication, some doctors still continue to use the device. While a number of lawsuits have already been filed by a number of women already diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, the most common type of cancer in women who have gone through morcellation treatment, the website of the morcellator lawsuit attorneys at Williams Kherkher says that there are many who may still not be aware of the possible effects of power morcellators or who may not know what legal steps to pursue to attain justice if ever they are victims of the cancerous effects of the device. Contacting a morcellator lawsuit attorney immediately, to help them in finding out their medical condition and for guidance on the best legal option to take, is, right now, the wisest thing to do.

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